One June 24, 2007 the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 189 proclaiming March 30 as a National Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
On November 19, 2007 the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution SR 169 proclaiming March 30 as a National Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
It was a long time coming.
If you haven’t been there and done that, you might wonder why today is Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. The answer is simple. Nobody said “Welcome Home” to Vietnam Veterans when they came home.
People might have called them “Baby Killer,” but they didn’t have the common courtesy to say, “Welcome Home”.
That’s why when Vietnam Veterans meet, “Welcome Home” is probably the most common way they greet each other.
The idea started with Vietnam Veteran Jose G. Ramos, from Whittier, California, who came up with the idea back in 2000. Ramos spent seven years making it happen.
To get the idea rolling, Ramos rode his bicycle from his home in California. to Washington, D.C. It was his way of asking the Bush White House to proclaim a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
In 2002, Whittier, California became the first city in the country to proclaim a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
In 2003 Representative Linda T. Sanchez, a Democrat, who represents California’s 39th Congressional District, and 43 other Representatives sent a request to President George W. Bush asking him to sign an Executive Order creating Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
Bush, who avoided service in Vietnam, ignored the request.
In January 2004, Am Vets Post 113 in Irwindale, California organizes the first Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day celebration, which was attended by approximately 500 veterans and community members.
In May 2004, a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day cycling team left Whittier, California on a cross country trek to Washington D.C. When they got to Washington in June, they visited every member of the House of Representatives.
For the next three years Ramos worked tirelessly to drum up the needed support in Congress. Then on June 24, 2007, four years after Congresswoman Sanchez wrote the first Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Resolution, Congress unanimously passed HR 189 proclaiming March 30th Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
Vietnam Veterans of America’s founding principle
As we honor America’s Vietnam Veterans today, let’s not forget the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are facing the same kinds of problems Vietnam Veterans did: high unemployment, rejection by society, and high rates of PTSD.
As Americans get fed up with the seemingly endless wars they tend to blame the veteran, instead of blaming the politicians who got us into this mess in the first place.
But it wasn’t the veterans who invaded the wrong country, it was a politician. It wasn’t the veterans who let Osama Bin Laden skate for eight years, it was a politician.
Some people say it’s time to get out of Afghanistan, other say it isn’t. Only time will tell who’s right.
In the meantime, show some respect to the Veterans who have given so much to their country, without having the right to ask why they were fighting where they were fighting.
If you meet a Vietnam Veteran today, say Welcome Home. If you meet a Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran today, say Welcome Home to them too.
They’ve been there. They’ve done that. They know the price of freedom.
It’s a price veterans over and over again pay each and every day of their lives.